Coca-Cola says government denied funding for $57m plant upgrade

Almost 30 new manufacturing jobs will be created at Coca-Cola Amatil’s (CCA) new $57 million bottle preform and closure manufacturing facility, which was built to eliminate the food manufacturer’s reliance on third-party bottling companies, however CCA claims the government denied money to fund the project.

Almost 30 new manufacturing jobs will be created at Coca-Cola Amatil’s (CCA) new $57 million bottle preform and closure manufacturing facility, which was built to eliminate the food manufacturer’s reliance on third-party bottling companies, however CCA claims the government denied money to fund the project.

The new facility has opened at the site of CCA’s $90 million automated distribution centre in Eastern Creek, New South Wales, and is reportedly the final stage in the vertical integration of its manufacturing facilities in Australia and New Zealand.

Interestingly, CCA was unable to secure government funding for the site development, as government bodies did not consider the venture to be ‘meaningful’ enough, according to CCA.

“There was no Government funding available for this manufacturing facility. Our CEO, Terry Davis, has repeatedly called on Governments to assist the manufacturing sector with support in the form of accelerated depreciation and meaningful Research and Development (R&D) allocation,” CCA director of media and public affairs, Sally Loane, told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

The new facility will use injection moulding technology to manufacture plastic bottle closures (caps) and PET resin preforms that will be used to make PET plastic bottles at CCA’s other manufacturing sites in Australia and New Zealand.

The facility has been under construction for a month, bringing the company’s investment in bottling in Australia to $450 million.

The site will initially produce 1.4 billion preforms and 1.4 billion closures per year, however it could facilitate manufacture of 2.4 billion preforms and 2.4 billion closures if expanded to cater for future growth. 

The factory will produce preforms and closures for CCA’s non-alcoholic drink business, which is separate to the company’s joint-venture with SAB Miller – Pacific Beverages – which is exclusive to CCA’s alcoholic brands.

The new site will enable the company to make its own bottles on production lines within its facilities. Preforms are fed into the blow-fill machines and bottles are blown to CCA’s specific design, enabling the drinks manufacturer to produce light-weight beverage bottles.

According to CCA, this means the company can bring in-house all the intellectual property associated with innovation in design and light-weighting which was previously not exclusive to CCA. 

The company claims to be reducing its carbon footprint by making bottles with approximately 20% less PET resin, while also reducing the need to transport preforms, closures and empty bottles from suppliers. 

“We have been reliant up until now on the design and weight specifications of our suppliers of our bottles, preforms and closures, and these were not exclusive to CCA. By bringing all the manufacturing in-house, we will be able to design our own packaging which will not be available to any other beverage producer,” said Loane.

The preforms will initially be supplied to CCA’s Northmead, Sydney manufacturing facility, “which has the ‘blow-fill’ bottle manufacturing technology installed on production lines,” Loane said.

“We are rolling ‘blow-fill’ out to our other manufacturing facilities in Australia and New Zealand, so eventually, this preform and closure plant will supply all our facilities in Australia and New Zealand – approximately six facilities.”

Image: CCA group managing director Terry Davis (right) and Mayor of Blacktown Alan Pendleton officially opened the new site at Eastern Creek last Friday.